Today I read some analysis of the Significant Military Operation in Ukraine and how it appears as if Russia has lost the strategic and operational war by retreating to their side of the river in preparation for the winter war to come. The analysts don't even pretend to see the war as it really is. By that I mean they cannot even conceptualize what remaining steps have yet to be followed to the bitter end and if there is one thing I know of that part of Eurasia, they always go to the bitter end before going down to defeat. I mean this applies to both Russia and Ukraine.
The Powers that Be in both NATO and Ukraine don't give a rat's ass for the poor people of Ukraine or even Western Europe which is being rolled back to the Dark Ages the sanctions the EU imposed on Russia but which only impact the people of Western Europe and to a limited extent, America. Nobody who lives and works in a palace cares how much electricity costs or how much gas costs since they don't pay anyway. They really don't care about inflation because it doesn't have any impact on them. Nobody cares that 2/3s of Ukraine will be without power or heat this winter and nobody cares that NATO keeps the war going there by continuing to send Ukraine "free" weapons to be used in killing Russian conscripts by a country known to be utterly corrupt.
You probably wonder what those steps left unmentioned might be. They're pretty routine easy steps that any Russian oligarch would be pleased to consider as a 'good and necessary step towards an acceptable peace in our time.'
1. Just let Chernnobyl's current online nuclear reactors melt down like they did the last time but this time there won't be any heroic Russians stepping into lethal radiation to put the fires out and cap the reactors. This time the winter winds howling off Siberia's plains and down the Ural Mountains will blow that radio-active dust all over western Europe and Scandanavia. The Russians will blame Ukraine, Ukraine and NATO will blame Russia but at that point, as St. Hillary said, "what difference does it make?"
2. There are other nuclear power reactors that could suffer mysterious runaway chain reactions leading to meltdowns. The winds blow west so it really doesn't matter to Russia if the fallout contaminates the lands of the people who have made Russians their enemy. It's probably important to keep in mind that Russians don't care at all about what happens outside of Russia; they never did and likely never will. Popular opinion is a "western" term with little to no meaning outside the West.
3. There are a number of dams in Ukraine that could suffer catastrophic failure all of a sudden one night. At this point in the war I wouldn't set any limits on Russian retaliation in western Europe/NATO for launching an all out economic war on Russia. A war is a war.
As I read analysts natter on about their perception of things I am once again struck by the idiotic notation that occurred in the front piece of many of my Econ and Politics textbooks. "We assume all States to be rational actors." That's it. Think about it. What part of rational struck you when the South opened fire on Fort Sumter? What part of rational do you think caused Japan to retaliate for the economic war the United States was conducting against them that caused them to decide to launch a sneak attack on the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii? You can look at just about any war and ask that question. It is best answered with, "because they thought they could get away with it."
In the current situation the Ukrainians thought they could continue to harass and kill ethnic Russians in the east and that they could actually prevail in a war with Russia. They did NOT get lucky when NATO decided to throw in with them and arm them with 'free' weapons. What part of the EU was rational when it slit its own energy throat by not just banning the import of Russian natural gas but by blowing up the pipelines that took years to build under the Baltic Sea? What part of rational led the long neutral states of Scandinavia and Switzerland to launch similar economic sanctions on Russia knowing that it was going to hit them much worse?
So far as I can tell, the only rational State in this farce of a war is Russia. They had a clear objective they believed was within their means and acted on it just as they did when they took Crimea back in 2014. They were going to snip off some more Ukraine and that would be that. They failed to consider that anybody in the West would be as stupid and irrational as they all proved to be.